Well Met, Gunslinger

The Dark Tower

You know that feeling where you know you’re nearing the end of a book and you don’t want the story to end so you avoid the reading for as long as you can?

That was me for the past week with The Dark Tower. After speeding through The Wolves of The Calla (FAVORITE) and The Song of Susannah I started the final volume and realized that I was too far along, and that it would all be ending soon and I had to stop otherwise I’d be leaving Mid-World, Roland, Jake, Eddie, Susannah, Oy and The Man In Black behind.

I wasn’t ready, but I knew it had to happen. And I said goodbye to each of them in turn. To Eddie as he fought to free the Beam from the Breakers of Blue Heaven. To Jake as he shielded Stephen King from the van that nearly killed him in 1999. To The Man In Black, Walter, as he tried to ally with Roland and Susannah’s demon half son Mordred only to be destroyed. (That’s one of those sentences that doesn’t make any sense out of context…) To Susannah as she passed into a new world, to be reunited with Eddie and Jake. To Oy as he defended Roland one last time. And finally to Roland Deschain, The Gunslinger himself as he stepped through the door at the top of The Dark Tower, only to begin the story all over again.

People complain about this ending? This brilliant perfect ending? This is the disappointing bit of sloppiness I’ve seen tossed aside in comment sections and heard scoffed at during comic cons over and over again?

I don’t understand people. And people generally don’t understand endings, and it drives me nuts. (Seriously, I’ve spent so much breath on the ending of Lost, and why it’s perfect. Also The Hunger Games.) 

Anyway, in a few weeks, if as the man in black flees across the desert, and the gunslinger follows, Roland carries the Horn of Eld, well…I think that could bode very well.

It’s all Nineteen after all.

Winter Is Here

Not to get overly gushy or anything, but OhMiGod OhMiGod You Guys! Game of Thrones comes back on Sunday.

While it’s a short visit to Westeros (only 7 episodes, although I’m choosing to think of it in terms of the two 7 episode seasons actually giving us 4 more episodes than one 10 episode season would, it’s still hard to stomach the abbreviation.)

I’ve spent a large chunk of my summer trying NOT to obsess over the fact that Game of Thrones wasn’t back and now it’s coming back and OMG I’m so happy that it’s back.

What’s going to be weird is I’ve lost some of my sounding board for the show. Mary and Joe have moved across the country and into a different time zone, so even discussing the show with them is going to be delayed, I will now rely on you, trusty blog folk, even more to flail over episodes with me.  But, since it’s been longer than usual, and because I’ve been avoiding it I haven’t rewatched the show as I usually do leading into the new season, let’s consider where we’re at:

Starks:

Jon has been declared The King In The North, and Sansa appears to be the power behind that. Little Finger (BLEH) brought the Knights of The Eyrie to save their bacon, and has declared that he wants the Iron Throne and Sansa as his queen (TRIPLE BLEH). Jon has banished Melisandre, and he and Davos are all set to shift everyone’s attention from King’s Landing to North of The Wall, where the White Walkers continue to grow in power.

Oh, also, Jon is actually the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, and is possibly, if Lyanna and Rhaegar were married the true heir to the Iron Throne, a prime candidate to be The Prince That Was Promised, and will, if all badassness is to be fulfilled, become the rider of one of Dany’s dragons. (Probably the one named for his father.)

Or he’ll die, because George RR Martin.

Arya has begun her vengeance quest. We’ll see how that goes. Bran is officially the Three Eyed Raven now, I think?

Lannisters:

Cersei is on the Iron Throne, all her kids are dead, Jaime likely won’t put up with her shit much longer and The Sand Snakes and The Tyrells are coming for her. I want few things in this story more than Jaime killing Cersei and then himself. It feels narratively necessary.

Tyrion we’ll get to later, but yeah.

Daenerys Targaryen, Stormborn, Queen of The Seven Kingdoms & Mereen, Breaker of Chains, Khaleesi of The Great Grass Sea & Mother Of Dragons

Khaleesi is headed for Westeros, everybody say WOOO!!!! She’s got a fleet of Greyjoy ships, as well as the ships of the slavemasters, she’s got a crap ton of Dorthraki and the Unsullied on her side, plus she’s got the council of Tyrion Lannister and Lord Varys and Dragons.

We’ve seen pictured of Dany and Jon together, but whether that’s because they have scenes together or Emilia and Kit were just having a chat remains to be seen. BUT OH BOY do I want those two unsmiling hardasses to meet up and scowl at each other.

People Who I Think Are Going To Die

I mean, besides everyone? I do not think that Davos is long for this world, The Lord of Light and Melisandre as his emissary are probably not going to let his rejection stand.

Cersei, as I’ve explained and Jaime after her.

Jorah, also probably a goner, which is a bummer.

People Who May Live But Who I Don’t Think Things Will Work Out So Great For

The Good Greyjoys: I just don’t see things working out for Yara and Theon. Euron is supposed to be the most sadistic and terrifying villain we’ve seen yet, according to Martin, and he’s been thwarted by his niece and disgraced nephew, which I do not think he will take well. Also, it’s not like, out of the question that Arya: Spirit of Lady Stoneheart decides that Theon’s redemption is bullshit and murders the crap out of him.

Sansa: Too much went Sansa’s way last season. It was awesome, don’t get me wrong, but she’s long overdue for a large scale setback that is also completely horrifying.

Dany & Jon: Look I want things to work out for these crazy kids. I want them married, ruling Westeros and defeating The Others with dragonfire. BUT, this is Thrones. Martin’s never met a fantasy trope he didn’t subvert, castrate, rape, murder, feed to dogs and then set on fire. Secret son of the king, turned reborn chosen one and exiled princess returning to her true throne 100% qualify as the kind tropes he loves to stomp all over. Thus, I fear that our beloved Prince and Princess Who Were Promised are likely to wind up dead in the snow, their eyes turning blue, servants of the Night’s King. Sam and Tyrion will likely avenge them. Martin likes them a lot. A little too much, frankly.

People I will Miss Very Much This Season

Margaery Tyrell. King Tommen The Adorable. Ser Barristan Selmy. Shireen Baratheon. Stannis Baratheon. Hodor. The Faceless Man/J’Quen H’Ghar. The High Sparrow.

People I Will Not Miss At All And Thank God They’re Finally Dead/Not Involved Anymore

Walder Frey. Loras Tyrell. Ramsey Bolton. Myranda. The Fucking Waif. Every Single Character In Mereen Who Wasn’t Directly Allied With Dany.

Shipping Things I Want

Yara/Dany

Jon/Dany

Dany/Anyone (Seriously, I ship her with the whole world)

Brienne/Jaime

Shipping Things I DO NOT Want

Brienne/Tormund (DIIIIEEEEE IN A FIRRRREEEEE)

Dany/Tyrion (OK, so there’s one exception I don’t want her with)

Sansa/Anyone

Funny Thing That Happened To Me This Weekend

So on Saturday, my friend Owen mentioned that he started that show and that he’s halfway through season 2 and he hopes that Robb Stark doesn’t get corrupted by his new found power. He asked me if this happens and I half laughed/half cried, “No, Robb does NOT in fact corrupted by power.” Then he said that he didn’t I think that Robb should be the king, to which I replied, “Well, even at the point you’re at no, because I don’t think there should be a king, there should be a queen.”

Then he kept prying about what happened to Robb and I explained that this kind of conversation gets people mad at me, and he said he doesn’t care about spoilers, and everyone who’s watched the show said pretty much in unison, “OH NO, you care about this.”

Because there are spoilers and not caring and then there’s having someone wreck the Red Wedding for you.

Anyway, I told him if he wanted my thoughts, he was free to come read the thousands of words that I’ve written here about the show.

And there are more to come.

Guys, it’s back on Sunday.

Winter is Here.

Stay Close To The Ground

Spider-man

Every time something new started in Spider-Man: Homecoming I thought, “Well, that’s perfect.” From the opening of Peter’s video diary showing his time in Civil War from his perspective, to the pounding drums of The Ramones “Blitzkreig Bop” over the credits (Because QUEENS! You guys, both Spider-Man and The Ramones are from Queens!) every second of Homecoming feels right.

Tom Holland is a treasure, and I feared with a whole movie to cover we met wind up with some Charlie Hunnam/Ed Westwick/Robert Pattinson “whisper to cover the British Accent” thing, but that didn’t happen and his dorky infectious youth is such a good fit for Peter Parker that even the flaws in this movie, of which I feel there are very few, are easy to miss.

Zendaya’s Michelle (MJ to her friends…a little on the “John Blake’s name is actually Robin” side there, Homecoming…) is probably my favorite character in anything in a very long time. Jacob Batalon’s Ned is as endearing a BFF as we’ve ever gotten in the MCU, and of course Robert Downey Jr., Marissa Tomei and Jon Favreau acquit themselves well. Michael Keaton’s Vulture is terrifying and compelling. (Did we expect less than that from him?)

The cameos by Hannibal Burress, Martin Starr and Donald Glover are all hilarious and kind of perfect. (Put. *CLAP* Donald. *CLAP* Glover *CLAP* In *CLAP* All *CLAP* The *CLAP* Things *CLAP*) And a last minute appearance by Gwyneth Paltrow actually had me PHYSICALLY BOUNCING OUT OF MY SEAT! (TONY AND PEPPER GOT BACK TOGETHER! AND THEN ANOTHER THING HAPPENS! NO SPOILERS!)

The action is fun and zippy and not overused, the superhero through the lens of John Hughes is equally great.

Oh, and those Captain America school videos? Further proof that Evans is the best Chris. And that post credit is further FURTHER proof. (This is mostly to shut down my brother, who insists that Pratt is the best.)

RANKINGS!

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  3. Guardians of The Galaxy: Volume 2
  4. King Arthur: Legend of The Sword
  5. Cars 3
  6. Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Trailers:

The Dark Tower: I mean, I didn’t NOT CRY, when The Man In Black asked Roland if he told the boy everyone who walked with him died. I haven’t been breaking into sobs whenever I think about Jake Chambers lately or anything. (Also, is it just Roland and Jake in this movie? No Eddie and Susannah? I have a lot of questions…I’ll get my answers in a few weeks I guess) (I hope we get Eddie and Susannah.) (Especially Eddie.)

Dunkirk: SO SO SO SO SO GOOD. Also, I didn’t realize Kenneth Branagh was in it. Because I needed more reasons to see this movie.

Daddy’s Home 2: Aside from the perfection of casting Jon Lithgow as Will Ferrell’s father I just do not see a need for this to exist. I would much prefer if they’d done The Other Guys 2 as both Ferrell and Wahlberg were funnier in it, and it’s a better movie.

Pitch Perfect 3: Wooo, a waste of all of these women’s talents is coming out again. (My dislike of Pitch Perfect 2 is deep.)

Kingsman: The Golden Circle: GOD IT LOOKS SO GOOD!

Wonder: I don’t actually want to see this, but it does feature Daveed Diggs as an elementary school teacher, which feels right. And it made me wish Aless was with me (she’s in Italy, whatever!) because I don’t think the strangers around me appreciated my squealing of his name when he appeared on screen. (Look,  they’re lucky I didn’t shout “LAFAYETTE!” in rhythm to “Guns and Ships.”)

 

 

Those Albums

So, the July session of Camp NaNoWriMo begins tomorrow and I went to see U2’s The Joshua Tree Tour on Wednesday night.

I swear, I’m going to connect these things.

I’ve been thinking about music a lot more lately than I usually do, partly because I’ve finally gotten into a being caught up on podcasts pattern that allows me to listen to more music, and partly because my July project is about 3 twenty something siblings (and one of their significant others) who’ve spent their lives deeply entrenched in musical theater and classic rock. I know I’m stretching myself on the experience front, that doesn’t sound like my family at all.  I mean, my brother is 32 at this point, so it’s like, completely different.

In actuality the idea of writing something non genre with my family as it’s centerpiece, even fictionalized is something I’ve attempted and gotten scared of a few times, but I think I’ve found the right framework this time, and I’m excited to move forward with it.

But because of that I’ve been thinking about those albums and songs. The ones that mean more than they do because of memories. For my siblings and I there are some really specific one. Born To Run, Hotel California, Songs You Know By Heart, and yeah, The Joshua Tree. 

 

 

No Day But Today

Sometimes I have to make myself very strict rules, when it comes to my media consumption. It’s usually for my own good, sometimes it’s completely arbitrary and it’s often for a reason that would seem nonsensical to an outsider.

A big one, that some people might think is very strange, started a few years ago. “I’m not ever going to encounter Rent on purpose.”

I won’t listen to it.

I won’t watch the movie. (Not that I’d want to, ugh, it’s so awful)

I won’t watch the filmed closing night performance. (Much better than the movie and still includes Tracy Thoms’s transcendent Joanne. With JV Elphaba Eden Espinosa as Maureen no less!)

This rule is in place for a few reasons. It keeps me from swirling down a bizarre hole of nostalgia, disappointment and obsession. It keeps me from poking holes in a piece of art that meant a lot to me once, means less to me now and which I know is DEEPLY, DEEPLY flawed. And mostly, it keeps me from boring the people around me with conversation about Rent. Because, and I mean this kindly, most normal humans ran out of things to say about Rent in either 1998, or when they turned 19. Whichever came first.

I could talk about Rent forever. I could talk about the original cast and how I still clap with raucous joy every time I see any of them in anything. (Remember on Smash when Daphne Ruben Vega and Jesse L. Martin were on it?) I could talk about how the replacement casts shaped Broadway talent for a generation and are still shaping it in certain ways. (Not least of all because of Hamilton and Lin-Manuel’s admitted affection for the show and it’s style.) I could talk about Jonathan Larson, the stranger than fiction circumstances of his death, the good work done by his family in his name, and speculate about what theater would look like if he’d lived. (My guess? A lot fewer revivals & movie adaptations. A lot more rock operas about gay people.)

Anyway, this is all by way of saying that on Friday, I half broke the rule. I was listening to my Spotify “Weekly Discovery Playlist” and the first track off of Anthony Rapp’s Without You: A Musical Memoir, his recreation of his audition for Rent came on. I then spent my lunch hour listening through Without You, something I’ve been meaning to do for ages, since the book Without You is one of my all time favorite memoirs. (It’s about his mom dying as much as it’s about Rent and it.is.stunning.) And as Anthony recreated his memories of the show, my own came rushing back and I knew that I needed to at the very least listen to the OBC again.

Since I had a 2 hour drive to Juli’s that night, I had the perfect opportunity.

It’s funny, the things that come back to you with music. Seeing Rent for the first time with my brother. Parking lot and diner renditions of “La Vie Boheme,” with my summer stock friends after rehearsals. Learning the alto line to “Seasons of Love” with at least 3 different choir directors. Screaming with joy as my name got called for the front lottery when Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp were back in the show for a few weeks. My friend Ali and I dressing in our bohemian best to go see the movie on opening night. (Cannot reiterate it enough, DO NOT WATCH THE MOVIE. Do however, listen to the movie versions of “Seasons of Love,” “Out Tonight,” and “I’ll Cover You (Reprise)” Jesse Martin, Tracy Thoms and Rosario Dawson make those songs worthwhile.)

And then there’s the show and the album itself. The beauty of the music, the emotions of the story, and the urgency and earnestness of the whole thing. Looking at it as an adult, “One Song Glory,” and both versions of “I’ll Cover You,” feel much more at the heart of the whole thing than “La Vie Boheme” and “Seasons,” though as an adult, I’ve also come around on “Seasons of Love,” which while overused and misused as it has been, is just a beautifully composed choral number and achingly melancholy in a way that a teenager could never in a hundred years understand.

But there’s also an oddness to the show now. It was written when Idina Menzel’s wailing belt was trangressive and edgy, when thinking about Angel’s gender identity was taboo and confusing, when the New York I know didn’t exist, and gentrification wasn’t yet a foregone conclusion. That gives it a time capsule quality that makes it hard to evaluate outside of it’s moment.

Idina’s probably the most interesting case of the original cast. Rent made her a star theatrically, and Wicked cemented it, and while I love that I now live in a world where she and Lin-Manuel Miranda are household names, it’s weird, and half the time when people talk about Frozen, I really really want them to listen to “Over The Moon.” Not just because making people listen to “Over The Moon” out of context is hilarious, but because the image of Elsa shouting, “NOT IN MY BACKYARD UTENSILS GO BACK TO CHINA!” breaks a lot of people’s brains. The rest of the casts’ evolution makes more sense. Adam Pascal is still a theater guy, Anthony Rapp and Daphne Ruben Vega became working character actors, who it is always a joy to see. Jesse Martin became everyone’s favorite cop/dad (Sometimes both!). Taye Diggs was swallowed into Shondaland. (I actually think Taye should be a much bigger star than he is, but you know…whatever.) But Idina as Disney Supernova still baffling to me, in a very good way.

As you can see, I could keep babbling for ages about this. Which is why I have the don’t listen to Rent rule.

 

You Don’t Know How That Feels

Cars 3 is an interesting animal. I mean, all of the Cars movies are sort of interesting and a little bit weird, but also quite enjoyable.

I had a feeling that I was going to like it, because it’s basically the plot of Rocky 3, and I really, really like Rocky 3. (It’s my favorite Rocky…) Lightning McQueen wants to come back, but it seems like racing has moved on, and his mentor is dead, and his partner is supportive, but unable do much for him, and there’s outside pressure that has nothing to do with why he fell in love with the whole thing anyway.

The movie itself is sweet, touching, and not overly long, which made for a nice change. I adore new character Cruz Ramirez, as well as several quite sweet tributes to Paul Newman.

There are fun cameos as always, although I think Lighting’s new corporate boss being a Cadillac named “Mr. Sterling” being voiced by Nathan Fillion and NOT John Slattery is a waste of a perfectly good easter egg. (Not to take away from Fillion, who is as always, flawless.)

Cars 3 is worth checking out, Pixar usually is, if only to see what they were able to do visually, and this one has a fun story and some nice new characters to go along with it.

Short:

Lou, about the sentient, loving Lost and Found being is straight up adorable, with a touching bit to say about bullying, and attachment.

Rankings:

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. Guardians of The Galaxy: Volume 2
  3. King Arthur: Legend of The Sword
  4. Cars 3
  5. Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Trailers

Despicable Me 3: This is coming up. I’ll probably go see it. Unlikely I’ll see it opening night.

Ferdinand: I knew this was happening, I did not know that John Cena was voicing Ferdinand. That’s kind of ridiculously perfect.

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure: Oh my goodness, can I not wait for a short of Olaf running around learning about Scandinavian Christmas traditions. Also, Else and Anna’s Christmas dresses are everything.

Coco: OK, this is going to be great, or at the very least beautiful. I don’t know a lot about Dios De Los Muertos, except that it’s also my birthday, and in Ireland we call it All Souls Day.

There Are Other Worlds Than These

Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, which way to Never never land?

Emerald City’s gone to hell, since the Wizard blew off his command.

On the street you hear the voices, lost children, crocodiles.

But you’re not into making choices, Wicked Witches, poppy fields or men behind the curtain.

Tiger lilies, ruby slippers, clock is ticking that’s for certain. – “30/90”, Tick, Tick…Boom, by Jonathan Larson

Because of my foray into The Dark Tower (I’m through The Wastelands now, and it’s amazing, and I love it, and I remember the face of my father.) I’ve been thinking about other worlds in fiction.

I’m not talking about other planets, or even alternate realities. So that leaves out things like Mirror Worlds and Bizzarro Worlds, and even realms like Middle Earth, or Westeros or Tortall.

I’m talking about other worlds, that exist in some space near or in our own, and you access them through some sort of magic. I’m talking about your Narnia, your Wonderland, your Neverland, your Oz.

While I’m not sure if there strange desert world of Roland The Gunslinger is actually another world, and not a far flung future of our own, (NO SPOILERS! I’ve been spending the month restraining myself from Googling more about this series because I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW UNTIL I KNOW!) for the moment I’m treating it as someplace else.

Mainly I’ve been thinking about how you view those worlds as an adult, as opposed to as a child. The lyrics I posted above are from Tick Tick…BOOM, and are technically about anxiety about turning 30, which also, coming, and also, GAH trying so hard not to think about…although if in the next 6 years I can create something as indelliably awesome as Jonathan Larson did with Rent I think I’d be OK…I mean, not the dying at 35, without ever SEEING my creation completed part, but the writing something as resonant as Rent part. So much art about aging anxiety is about the destruction of childhood, and the wish expressed in “30/90” is to trade Oz for Neverland, as if one imploded and the other is just there waiting.

“Go on then,” Jake, the young boy who becomes the closest companion of Roland, says as he falls to his death in The Gunslinger, “there are other worlds than these.” Maybe there’s something about 30 that makes me want to seek out new worlds, or giving up on seeing them altogether, but this year has me being really introspective and kind of wishing I was someplace else. This is a general feeling, not one that I plan to act on and since the places I’m dwelling on don’t really exist, they aren’t really an option.

Emerald City’s gone to hell, since the wizard blew off his command.